Race & Gender & Life Expectancy

Posted by – September 23, 2012

So this is shocking news: whites who don’t graduate high school have a life expectancy that’s four years shorter than it used to be. And look at this:


In 2010, American women fell to 41st place, down from 14th place in 1985, in the United Nations rankings. Among developed countries, American women sank from the middle of the pack in 1970 to last place in 2010, according to the Human Mortality Database.

Uneducated white women are now living not even as long as black women with the same lack of education. That is honestly shocking. The life expectancy of uneducated black women has always been horrible, but now even more women are dying at the same rates.

But then there’s this guy:

“There’s this enormous issue of why,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard who was an author of a 2008 paper that found modest declines in life expectancy for less educated white women from 1981 to 2000. “It’s very puzzling and we don’t have a great explanation.”

Um, what? Bad health care, single parenting with little to no safety net (which can cause more stress), substance abuse (especially of prescription drugs and cigarettes), sexual violence… is this really hard to work out?

The one good part, I suppose, is that the percentage of everyone without high school diplomas is down from 22% to 12%.

So much for feminism being redundant in America, eh?

1 Comment on Race & Gender & Life Expectancy

  1. divadarya says:

    I had the same reaction; you really can’t figure this out, Professor?

    The reality show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is actually a pretty telling social document. The mom had her first child at fifteen and now has four; Dad is not married to her and as poor as she is, and speaks almost unintelligable English with a mouthful of chewing tobacco, usually. Mom weighs about 400 lbs and eats a high carb, high fat diet for comfort and the price. Inone episode she explained that she did not want a pedicure because a forklift ran over her foot at her last job and since she has no real medical care, she’s never gotten it fixed.

    Like a family in the South Bronx who hopes their tall, athletic son becomes an NBA star, she showers money and attention on her youngest for pageants, their only seeming hope or connection with fame, riches, glory or esteem.

    It amazes me how the church and racism consistently remain the best tools to keep poor people from seeing their common plight or taking action on it, and how sucessfully politicians and corporations manipulate that.

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